Tag Archives: canada

It’s hard for thee to kick against the pricks

1. I’m actually done with summer now. I’m over it. For the first time in many years, I feel like I’ve had a proper summer. I went outside. I did summery things. Apart from one overcast day, the weather in BC was sunny and glorious for my entire holiday, and it’s been mostly sunny here in England since I got back, and I’m tired of sunny now. My eyes hurt from the glare and I’m sick of being coated in sunscreen. Can we return to our regularly scheduled gloomy British drizzle now please?

2. As previously stated, BC was spectacular, as it always is. Margaret Atwood (an Ontario native) once described British Columbia’s landscape as show-offy (but more eloquently than that, obvs), and if I wasn’t born there I’d probably feel the same way. Everything is so over-the-top, ridiculously beautiful. Riotously lush forests! Pow! Tumbling waterfalls! Bam! Soaring craggy mountain ranges! Whammo! Since I grew up around that shit, most other places now seem underwhelming in comparison. BC has spoiled me for, like, the rest of the world. (THANKS A LOT, BC.) While I was there I had my usual ‘why don’t I live here’ crisis. I’m finding it harder to come up with credible answers to that question.

3. I’ve started listening to true crime podcasts. And because I never do anything halfway, I’m listening to ALL the true crime podcasts. Don’t believe me? Behold my iTunes feed:

True crime podcasts

(OK, true crime and My Dad Wrote A Porno. You need to be listening to My Dad Wrote A Porno. Breasts are compared to pomegranates. You will laugh and cringe and laugh.)

(And before you even ask, yes obviously I’ve listened to Serial.)

If you fancy some true crime but don’t know where to start, never fear! I’m here for you.

Sword and Scale is the best by miles. The host’s narration style can be a bit dramatic for my tastes, but my tastes are extremely spartan in that department (BE MORE ROBOTIC), so please listen and judge for yourself. The content is interesting and varied and meticulously researched. There are hours and hours of recordings of 911 calls* and police interrogations and trial testimony. It is the Krispy Kreme of true crime podcasts. I binged all 70-plus episodes in less than a month, and felt slightly ill afterwards. People do some fucked-up shit.

Criminal and Detective are next in terms of quality and professionalism. Most Notorious is great if you like historical crime. Casefile and Felon focus mostly on crime in Australia (brace yourself before you listen to the Snowtown episode. Did I mention that people do some fucked-up shit?). The rest are all fine, except for True Crime Japan, which is sort of amateurish. I listen to it when I’m caught up on all the other ones.

*Man oh man, the more of these I hear, the more I realise that 911 operators just do not give a shit. You can be sobbing and screaming “OH GOD HE’S COMING FOR ME” and they will roll their eyes and be like “Can you speak more clearly please?”

4. As promised, here are some photos of BC showing off. Chill, BC.

2016-07 canada view
This was the view from my bedroom at my parents’ place.

2016-07 canada thetis 1

2016-08 canada thetis 2
Thetis Lake. This is within walking distance of my parents’ house (and within Victoria city limits). I swam here nearly every day.

2016-07 canada tsawwassen ferry
Tsawwassen ferry terminal in Vancouver (edited in Snapseed).

2016-07 canada victoria
Victoria harbour.

2016-07 canada chinatown
Chinatown, Victoria. I miss having a Chinatown around.

2016-08 canada kira
My niece, Kira. She scores pretty high on the cute-o-meter.

2016-08 canada sidney spit 3
Me and my crazy sister at Sidney Spit.

2016-08 canada mom
Trees grow pretty big on the island. Cute mom included for scale.

2016-07 canada wittys 6
The fam at Witty’s Lagoon.

2016-07 canada wittys 5
I love the Pacific. That blue…

2016-08 canada china beach
China Beach. A typical Vancouver Island beach. I love how the woods come right up to the water.

2016-07 canada wittys 1
Hey little crab dude!

2016-08 canada woods
I took about a hundred variations of this photo.

2016-07 canada wittys 4
Arbutus tree. These only grow in the Pacific Northwest.

2016-07 canada wittys 3

2016-08 canada sidney spit 2

2016-08 canada sidney spit 1

2016-08 canada sandcut beach 2

2016-07 canada wittys 2

I like my sugar with coffee and cream

1. Congratulations to Canada on electing the world’s hottest prime minister. For real, has there ever been a national leader this hunky in the history of the world? No there has not. It’s nice to see Canada at the forefront of something besides zamboni technology.

Justin Trudeau

I’d vote for that.

2. My upstairs neighbour continues to be stompy, particularly during the hour after I go to bed and the hour before I get up. I wish misery and death upon him. I’ve started sleeping in my lounge on an air mattress (the lounge is downstairs and therefore the stompiness is less noticeable there). I feel ridiculous but at least I’m sleeping, mostly.

3. I can’t stop listening to CHVRCHES. They are suuuuuuper poppy but their tunes are anthemic and make me want to pump my fist in the air. Sometimes I do pump my fist in the air. Don’t judge me.

4. How excited am I about the new War & Peace miniseries? FUCKING VERY. Although I picture Bolkonsky differently, but let’s not start quibbling already.

5. I applied for a design position at my job. I didn’t get it, but they offered me a different design position that’s actually more complex and challenging, so yay me. I am officially a professional graphic designer.

6. I saw a patch of blue sky the other day. I’d forgotten it came in that colour. I’m not usually one to be affected by the whole SAD thing, but the endless, endless grey is starting to get to me. It’s not helping that I am having the WORST run of luck when it comes to dating. It’s like I’m generating a man-repelling force field. Do I smell or something? You guys would tell me, right? Sheesh.

Holiday photo roundup

Hello! I am BACK. The West Coast is so preternaturally, mind-blowingly pretty it made me seriously, SERIOUSLY question my life choices. Perhaps one day I’ll move back to BC. Though I’ll have to assemble a harem of English men to take with me. (Any takers?) I can’t be doing with the baseball cap brigade. Seriously: SO MANY BASEBALL CAPS. Baseball caps and pickup trucks, baseball caps and pickup trucks, as far as the eye could see.

Highlights of my trip:
The Dirty Dancing board game spotted in the window display of a charity shop (“Do not pass go. Proceed directly to corner.”)
The sign outside a church in Victoria reading “Forbidden fruit produces many jams” (sounds delicious!)
The garden ornament store called “Classic Rock”

…Oh, and seeing seals and whales and eagles and swimming in warm bays and mountain lakes and going sea kayaking and visiting with friends and relatives I haven’t seen in decades. But mostly the Dirty Dancing board game because CAMMAN. If I’d had room in my luggage I would so own that right now.

holiday luggage

But see? I did not have room. I had to take this photo because I am incredibly proud of how little I packed. I iz in ur airport, disprovin ur gender stereotypes!


On the ferry.

stairs to beach

We spent the first week on Salt Spring Island. Lousy with hippies, that place, but some pretty, boy. These were the steps down to our PRIVATE BEACH. Are there any two more beautiful words in the English language? (Besides “open bar”, of course?)

view from the beach

PRIVATE. BEACH. I went swimming here.

salt spring piano

There are public pianos all over Salt Spring.

otter paw prints

Otter paw prints! We were told that this guy passes through the garden of the holiday rental every day, but we never got to see him. Gutted. Probably for the best because I would not have been able to stop myself from trying to cuddle him and subsequently being badly mangled. (It would have been worth it.)

dock - vesuvius bay

On the dock at Vesuvius Bay.

ferry 2

Ferry from Salt Spring to Vancouver Island.

victoria marina

Victoria city centre. Not a bad lookin’ town, eh.

the gorge

The Gorge, which runs through Victoria. Our holiday rental in Victoria overlooked it.

totem pole

Totem pole, Victoria marina.

thetis lake

Thetis Lake. I went swimming here.

sooke potholes

Sooke Potholes. I went swimming here too.

chinatown restaurant

Shanghai City restaurant in Chinatown. So good we ate there twice.

bc museum

British Columbia Museum.

bc museum 2

British Columbia Museum. I love this room.

tim hortons doughnut

I couldn’t let the trip end without having a proper doughnut!

Taking the maple syrup??

1. Edward James Olmos has been in two roles featuring sentient mutinous humanoid robots referred to as ‘skin jobs’ (Battlestar Galactica and Blade Runner). Catherine Keener has been in two films where the first words on the soundtrack are songs beginning with a count-in (“One, two, three four…”) (Friends With Money and Please Give, both directed by Nicole Holofcener). These are the kinds of things my brain decides to keep hold of. And yet I can’t parallel park.

2. I am on board with pretty much all of your British comedy. This country may no longer have an empire, a manufacturing industry, a viable economy, a strong presence on the international stage, or a hope in hell of ever winning another World Cup, but it is still the funniest nation on the planet, and I stand by that.

However. I do not understand the national fixation on Only Fools And Horses. The frickin’ show is beloved – BELOVED – and I do not get it. I mean, I get it, but I don’t like it. The jokes are hacky and obvious and I’m sorry but David Jason is just annoying. Why does every British person love it so much?? I DON’T UNDERSTAND.

Here is Stewart Lee, the best of all possible comedians, having an existential crisis about the fact that ‘Del Boy falling through the bar’ is consistently voted the funniest thing that has ever been on television. Stewart Lee knows what I’m talking about.

(For the record, I can’t stand A Touch Of Frost either. Go away, David Jason.)

3. On Saturday morning I am off on my first proper holiday in…wow. So long I can’t remember. I guess since that time I went camping in Scotland and the tent blew away, which the jury is still out on whether that can be termed a ‘proper’ holiday. I’ll be spending two weeks with my family on Vancouver Island, my first trip back to Canada in six years.

SIX YEARS! I’m trying to remember how to talk like a North American. I don’t want to get funny looks because of my foppish Anglicised speechifyin’, so I must remember that “vitamins” has a long i and “yoghurt” has a long o and that it is “four thirty” not “half four” and I must not say “that was a doddle” about things that are easy, or even worse, “that was a piece of piss”. And speaking of urine-based slang, what is the Canadian equivalent of “taking the piss”?? “Having me on” just isn’t as much fun to say…

Damned by asinine praise

Looking for reasons to travel to Canada? LOOK NO FURTHER!

You had me at “America’s neighbour”! I’m sold. Helpfully, they’ve also clarified that if you want to travel to Canada, “flights to Canada will get you there”.

Don Cherry’s piano desk

Here’s some more Don Cherry awesomeness for you Canadians, and for everyone really, because Don Cherry is UNIVERSAL. Some enterprising internet person has added piano sound effects to the commentary every time Don hits his desk to make a point, and it’s brilliant. As ever, Ron McLean doesn’t get a chance to say much but deserves an award for his facial expressions. He’s like Gromit.

New collage sheets! I’ve busy as a beaver! A Canadian beaver, and they’re the busiest.

Printable Tags – Funky Valentine Hearts Digital Collage Sheet – no. 0116. Click here to view on Etsy.

Anatomical Diagrams – 2x1in Digital Collage Sheet – no. 0118. Click here to view on Etsy.

Shattered…like my hopes

Callum Keith Rennie is one of my longstanding media crushes. I first fancied him in Due South. Remember Due South? Due South was great. I used to watch that show religiously back in college (good lord that’s more than TEN YEARS AGO), and initially I fanced the jodhpurs off Paul Gross. Callum Keith Rennie came in later in the series as Gross’s partner (after David Marciano left), and was so adorably high-strung and spiky-haired that I disloyally transferred my crush away from Paul Gross, who I’m sure is heartbroken to this day. (I’m sorry, Paul. It wasn’t meant to be.)

I’ve kept an eye out for CKR ever since (though I still need to see Hard Core Logo) and was happy to see some promo spots recently for Shattered, a Canadian drama about a detective with multiple personality disorder. Which, yeah, is gimmicky, but the whole defective-detective thing is so hot right now and CKR is a talented guy, so I thought maybe it would be good and at least CKR would be yummy yummy eye candy (he’s aging well, unlike me) so I set the Sky box to record the series, and I watched the first episode last night, all excited.

For about three minutes. And then I turned it off. Because it was dreadful.

Like, DREADFUL dreadful. First of all, there is no excuse to EVER use the line, “It’s a long story.” Opening scene: CKR (hardened detective) is introduced to his new partner, Obligatory Sexy Lady Detective, who has just transferred from Sex Crimes. There’s a bit of clumsy exposition-y dialogue (see above), and then CKR and OSLD are called out to a case. Flash to darkened warehouse straight from Clichéd-Homicide-Backdrops-R-Us. CKR finds the body of a young boy. OSLD sees the body and makes a face that is probably supposed to convey ‘stricken’ but comes across more ‘mildly concussed’ and robotically intones, “How could somebody do this. He’s only a child.”

Cue CKR schizoid flashback of some sort, indicated by the phrase “…only a child” echoing over and over and a zooming closeup of CKR doing some tortured gurning. And….click. That was quite enough for me. I cancelled the series record – it’s possible that the show might have warmed up since the first episode, but it would have had to travel light years just to make it up to ‘bad’.

What a waste of money, talent and tasty manflesh. And what a crying shame that Canada seems to only export its very worst TV shows (Murdoch Mysteries, I’m looking at you) but not its occasional moments of sheer brilliance (Da Vinci’s Inquest) (Nicholas Campbell, call me!). It’s just like the beer situation. Outside of Canada, virtually the only Canadian beers I’ve seen on sale are Labatt Blue and Molson Canadian. Barf. Nary a Big Rock ale to be found. Oh, and our latest contribution to the music industry? JUSTIN BIEBER. While The Sadies remain virtually unknown. Why does Canada want the world to think it sucks at everything???? Dammit, this is modesty gone TOO FAR.

New collage sheets JUST FOR YOU! As always, check my Etsy shop or my Folksy shop for purchase details.

Marie Antoinette French Glamour

Pretty Christmas Baubles

Folksy Friday: sepias and neutrals

And so, England’s World Cup dreams are dashed once again. I used to get all sad every time England let yet another World Cup pass them by, but lately I’ve decided to start thinking of the national side as an amusingly reliable disappointment. Oh, England! You’ve done it again, you scallywags! If you think about it, it really is quite incredible how a group of such individually talented players manages to form such a totally inept team. It’s an achievement not to be sniffed at.

And anyway the English aren’t happy unless they’re miserable. It brings out the best in them. I was out and about in St Ives in the deathly silence following the match, and came across a couple who had stopped to look at a very freshly dead pigeon on the pavement that looked to have bounced off a window only minutes earlier. “Must have seen the England match,” remarked the bloke.

We participated in a barbequeing/football viewing type event on Saturday, which was very enjoyable, even after I performed my party trick of getting a sunburn in minutes flat through several layers of suncream. Ta-daa! We watched the tail end of the US/Ghana match, and I will freely admit to experiencing shedloads of schadenfreude at the sight of the US team shedding tears after their defeat. I’m sorry. It’s just that I’m Canadian, and for me, seeing the US occasionally get creamed in a sporting event is basically the pinnacle of human happiness (similar to how the Scots felt watching England get Das Booted last week, I should think). G’WAN GHANA!

And speaking of Canada, yesterday was Canada Day, and I’m proud to say that my streak of forgetting about it every single year since I left the country remains unbroken. I was only alerted to the fact by a Canadian colleague, who noted the occasion by bringing in homemade Nanaimo bars. Holy shit, dude, I had forgotten about Nanaimo bars. So much buttery icing. They manage to be simultaneously delicious and disgusting. My colleague and I discussed this strange paradox and comisserated about the foodstuffs we miss most. Weirdly, whenever I talk to a fellow North American emigré about this, Kraft Dinner is always the first thing mentioned. I have not met an expat yet who doesn’t have Kraft Dinner shipped to them by their relatives (my mom always sends me a half dozen boxes at Christmas). If you describe Kraft Dinner to an English person, they will look at you in disgust (of course I brook no culinary criticism from a country that actually considers Scotch eggs to be edible). It’s hard to explain what’s so addictive about it, but MAN do I miss that lurid orangey goodness. Send more please Mom!

Here’s my Folksy Friday treasury for the week…

Remember This – Vintage Style Handmade Scrapbook Embellishment, by CraftyPagan Natural Leaf Coasters, by Charlotte Hupfield Ceramics Book Lover 8x8 Print, by Lola’s Room Retro Wind-up Robot Cufflinks, by FluffsStuffs Paper Wreath – Pride and Prejudice, by Bookity Amber Butterfly Patterned Brooch, by Julia Smith

Don Cherry, you daft racist

Heads up for a bit of Canadian culture! Don Cherry, as the canucks among you will know, is an institution. He’s been presenting Hockey Night In Canada since dinosaurs first roamed the earth on skates. Having grown up in a non-hockey-watching family, I have only vague memories of Don Cherry. I remember him being loudly dressed and a bit shouty and incoherent, but somehow I didn’t take in the fact that he is completely, utterly and irrevocably divorced from reality. If you have any love of comedy at all, hie ye hence and watch the shit out of Don Cherry’s Christmas rant on Coach’s Corner. I guarantee that it will be one of the most puzzling and diverting six minutes of your life. Here’s my listy breakdown of the best bits:

1. “We love Santa, but let’s not be silly.” (0:55)
2. Ron MacLean’s carefully blank expression. How that man has kept a straight face all these years I do not know. He should be knighted or something. (1.40-2.51)
3. “He broke the code! He broke the code!” (1.44)
4. Don’s total inability to sit still and be quiet when Ron finally manages to get a word in edgewise. He looks like he’s about to explode and scatter bits of insanity and red velour over a wide area. (3.05)
5. “Now let’s talk about some GOOD GUYS.” (5.47)
6. “SHOW THE NEXT ONE!” (5.58)

And if you enjoyed that (and who wouldn’t???), you might also enjoy Don complaining about how women at hockey games are always ruining things for everyone by getting hit in the face by the puck. God bless your crazy, crazy bigoted soul, Don Cherry!

Here are a few new collage sheets – visit my Etsy shop for purchase details.

Pretty Birds – images measure 3.5”x2.5”, ideal for ATC/ACEOs

Autumn Trees – images measure 3.5”x2.5”, ideal for ATC/ACEOs

Grunge Vintage Books – images measure 3.5”x2.5”, ideal for ATC/ACEOs